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By
AFP
Published
Jul 23, 2008
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De Beers says first-half sales sparkle, but cautions on outlook

By
AFP
Published
Jul 23, 2008


De Beers - The Amulets Collection
LONDON, July 23, 2008 (AFP) - De Beers, the world's biggest diamond company, said Wednesday July 23th that first-half sales rose 10 percent to 3.74 billion dollars (2.37 billion euros) but warned of woes in the key US market.

The British-South African giant, which claims 40 percent of the world diamond market, said net profit fell 9.7 percent to 316 million dollars in the six months to the end of June, compared with the same period of 2007.

Pre-tax profits, meanwhile, climbed by 20 percent to 562 million pounds.

"Economic conditions require a more cautious outlook for the second half of 2008," De Beers said in an interim results statement.

"Mass market retail diamond jewellery sales have been impacted by economic issues in the most important market, the United States."

Flagging American demand for diamonds would be partly compensated for with solid demand from emerging markets, the group added.

"While strong growth in China, India, Russia and the Middle East has helped to mitigate the impact of the US slowdown, the overall retail market is likely to be challenging," De Beers said.

"While demand for high-end diamonds is likely to remain robust, the smaller, lower qualities, which are more dependent upon US demand, are expected to remain subdued."

Output was slightly lower at 24.2 million carats in the first half, despite ongoing "energy challenges" in South Africa, which has been hit by power shortages this year.

De Beers is 45-percent owned by London-listed miner Anglo American. The Oppenheimer family has a 40-percent stake and the remaining 15 percent is held by the government of Botswana.

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